Cairngorms 2014: Day 6

I can’t quite believe the day we have had today…. the mist soon burned off and we were treated to a lovely day, with sunshine AND blue skies. As Crested tits are so exclusive to this part of the world, we decided to return to Loch Garten for a final blast in better light conditions. It was misty when we arrived, but gradually the sun burnt through and the light changed completely… all the usual suspects appeared very quickly… loads of coal tits and chaffinches, posing in the winter sunshine. The male (and female!) chaffinches are looking super and I couldn’t resist quite a few shots! 

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The Coal tits are real characters and incredibly bold, landing on your lens and they will come to your hand… something that I always think is SO special! Their tiny feet alighting on the end of your fingertips, their weight hardly discernible… I held my little Panasonic and managed to get a couple of shots :o)

 

I also took quite a few Coal tit shots, as they are excellent practice for when the Cresties finally appear… they are fast, flitting and unpredictable!

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I have been very keen to try to capture some video clips on the Bushnell NatureView of the Crested tits… quite difficult considering how unpredictable they are and how rarely they actually appear! It was worth a try though, so I attempted to set it up facing one of the perches. I put the 46cm close-up lens on and tried to position it so it was at the end of the perch, where we had placed the food… it was just a matter of waiting… and hoping I had it positioned correctly. It was not long before the coal tits were checking it out!

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I was delighted when the Crestie finally appeared… and it was on the perch that the Bushnell was facing ! I could not wait to upload the card and see if I had managed to capture it!  I captured a couple of screen captures from the video clips..

 

We had to be patient today for the Cresties, although the hoards of Coal tits and Chaffinches kept us occupied! In about 4 hours,  one individual visited about 4 times… for less than 10 seconds! You can imagine what it was like when it DID appear, as we were desperate to get the shot before it disappeared for another hour!  We did manage a couple of good shots though!

 

Having satisfied our daily craving for Cresties and with the skies clear and no breeze, we headed down to Loch Garten as it is well known for its stunning reflections… and we were not disappointed! Photos will never do this stunning scene justice! The Loch was like a mirror…

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As the skies were clear, we headed to Findhorn Valley as the view would be stunning. Just driving there was amazing as the views up here in the Cairngorms are truly stunning… distant mountains covered in snow and virtually 360 degree panoramic views.

We drove down the valley and pulled in at a viewpoint. There was a light drizzle and a rainbow appeared in the distance, along with blue skies!

Findhorn Rainbow

We stood and scanned the amazing scenery. This is Mountain Hare country, so we scanned the hillside nearby for hares. There was no snow on this part, so we hoped we might be able to spot some if there were any white ones around. About half way up this hillside, we spotted a hare, sitting within some boulders….

Findhorn hill

We had had wonderful shots of the hare in snow… would we be ale to get some of them in the rough moorland grass and boulders? Grabbing our cameras, we started a slow and steady ascent, trying to use the skill that Andy had taught us on Saturday. It was great to see this very pale hare in a different setting to those we had photographed before.Amongst the boulders, once again, this  seemed to disappear and it was really hard to spot him if you took your eye off of him. Crouching down on the 45 degree slop, I managed a few shots…

We spotted another one, a little higher up and crept close enough for a few shots…

Mountain kate

What a treat to be able to see these wonderful animals again! We left them and scrambled our way back down to the car to take one more look at this wonderful scenery as the sun sunk lower over the mountains…

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As we drove back down the valley, the light was fading . Suddenly we saw a movement on the side of the road. Quickly opening the window, I grabbed a shot… shame that blade of grass was right in front of his eye. Brown hares do frequent the lower areas here and sometimes interbreed with the Mountain hares. This one looks like a brown hare I think, but its ears do not look as long… may be this is a hybrid?

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Despite hoping for some owls on the final stretch back out, we only succeeded in photographing some of the mountain goats that live in this area…

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Another fantastic day… I really can’t believe what amazing photographic opportunities we have had! Amazing! :o))